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‘Local politics in Koodankulam protests’

Narayansamy meets protesters,blames local parties for fanning trouble at nuclear site

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office V Narayansamy on Tuesday blamed local political parties for fanning trouble at the Koodankulam nuclear site where villagers are protesting against the upcoming nuclear power plants.

Narayansamy,who met the protesters on Tuesday,said “competitive politics” in view of the upcoming elections for local bodies was complicating the situation in Koodankulam where two 100-MW reactors,built with Russian help,are about to be commissioned.

“They are creating fear psychosis in the local populations. That is making the situation more difficult. Obviously,there is a lot of misgivings that are being spread. But it is our duty to allay all fears and the government will address these concerns,” Narayansamy told The Indian Express.

He had been directed by the PM to try to convince the protesters about the safety of the reactors. “I have heard all their concerns. I assured them that I will convey these to the PM who will take a considered decision in this matter,” he said.

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Nearly 1,500 people were gathered at the site when the minister,accompanied by S K Jain,chairman and managing director of Nuclear Power Corporation of India,entered the site. About 120 people are sitting on an indefinite hungerstrike which entered the 10th day on Tuesday. The protesters refused to listen to the minister’s requests to call off their fast,and instead raised slogans against nuclear energy.

Before heading to the site,Narayansamy was briefed by the state chief secretary in Chennai. The minister and Jain will meet Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa Wednesday. Sources in the Atomic Energy establishment said the sudden protests at Koodankulam were “surprising” considering that there never has been any opposition to nuclear plants in the area. They said the villagers had been explained about the project and its safety features,and they were supportive.

Meanwhile,Russia has expressed the apprehension that the protests might cast a shadow over the commissioning of the plants which is due in December. “What is happening in Tamil Nadu is unfortunate. It looks like the protests will shadow the commissioning of the plant which is going to happen in December,” Russian embassy spokesperson Sergey V Karmalito said on Tuesday,while stressing that all safety norms had been put in place and fears of Fukushima-like disaster were misplaced.

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“Last month we conducted the trial runs,we checked all safety measures apart from whatever was envisaged of the plant in terms of features and productivity,” he said.

with inputs from Gopu Mohan/Chennai

First published on: 21-09-2011 at 12:37:04 am
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